dog survives unbelievable mountain fall

wally.jpgMy hiking buddy (Shasta, CA), Wally the Wonderdog, took a severe fall on the ice fields of Mt. Eddy, California.

The Wonderdog hit the ice and rocketed straight down for several hundred feet, gathering speed the whole way. Unfortunately, at the bottom of the ice field lay a steep rockfield, which he hit at full speed, sending him on a cartwheeling, pinwheeling ride over 600 vertical feet of very sharp, very hard rocks.

Michelle – an experienced mountaineer and backcountry skier – said simply that “it was the gnarliest thing I’d ever seen.”

She estimated he bounced and cartwheeled in the neighborhood of two dozen times, and that the total distance of the fall was in the 800-1,000 range.

“It was like it went on forever.”

I can’t imagine what it felt like to see that, but after a lengthy traverse to the bottom of the rock field, both Michelle and Nancy expected to find a dead doggie.

What they found was a battered, stunned Wonderdog staring at them.

This launched a rescue effort where Michelle – who weighs 120 pounds if you turned a fire hose on her – resourcefully jury rigged a small daypack and carried the 80-pound Wonderdog back up the ohmigod-steep rocky slope (if you’re handy with numbers, that’s 2/3 of her body weight) while Nancy steadied him.

I’m impressed.

On flatter ground, he was able to walk (limp, actually) down the trail towards the truck, but by the time I saw him at home, he was a battered puppy.

Bleeding from a bunch of wounds, his nose, and his mouth, he’d had a tooth ripped out and the right side of his face was swollen up so bad his eye was closed.

Get well soon, Wally.

Trout Underground Fly Fish Blog » Bamboo Ascendant in Dunsmuir. Wally the Wonderdog Plummeting in Mountains.

Maoist rebels still taxing Everest trekkers

Besthikes recommends you trek to the highest mountain on Earth via the Dingri to Everest Base Camp route in Tibet. The views of Chomolangma are far superior than those on the far more popular normal route out of Kathmandu, Nepal.

Many outdoor adventure blogs are quoting a German Press Agency report that Mt. Everest trekkers starting in Kathmandu are still being asking for a US$35 “donation” each from Maoist rebels. This despite that extortion being banned under the terms of the ceasefire agreement. There are hassles in Tibet too, but not extortion by armed gunmen.

… the Maoists collected the money from the tourists at Manjo, the main entry point to the Everest region.

… “Tourists pay 1,000 rupees (about 14 dollars) to the Everest National Park. In addition, they have to pay aircraft boarding taxes at Kathmandu airport. Tourists are being taxed at every point

… About 3,500 trekkers visit Everest in each of the three tourist seasons, making it the most popular trekking route in the Himalayan kingdom.

The Raw Story | Maoists intensify extortion from trekkers in the Everest region

photo from superb trip report by edMichel

UPDATE: Terrible breaking story in the region: China tries to gag climbers who saw Tibet killings (via GetOutdoors)

US hiking in decline?


… according to an annual survey by the Outdoor Industry Foundation, a Boulder, Colo.–based nonprofit affiliated with the Outdoor Industry Association … while backpacking is still a vital activity, with an estimated 13.5 million American participants last year, that figure represents a 22.5 percent decline since 1998.

… More disturbing yet to backpacking enthusiasts, young people are snubbing the backcountry in even bigger numbers, evidenced by a 32 percent drop in backpacking among 16- to 24-year-olds since 1998.

Packing It In. A great Northwest pastime—backpacking—is getting a little too gray. – Seattle Times

Is hiking really in decline? Is it changing?

Hikers I know are doing more ridge walks and scrambles. Others are planning thru hikes.

Worldwide I’m certain hiking is on the increase. The internet is making it easier to plan, communicate and organize hikes.

These stats are a blip, I reckon. Hiking everywhere, including the States, will become more popular in the future.

(via The Adventure Blog)

“drinking your water raw”

filter-water.jpgContributor George Novak normally hikes without water bottle or filter. He “prehydrates” — then drinks as much as he can if and when he finds good water. He has no more stomach trouble than the most careful hiker.

Everyone agrees the literature is hyper-cautious when it comes to water treatment.

Doc’s Rules for Sipping the Waters

Study the watershed you are in. Know what is there.
Look for water near to its source.
Try to take water from the sideslope streamlets.
Avoid water from the main valley stream.
Look for icy cold water.
Look for fast-moving water.
Study the area for the presence of large animals.
Ascertain whether numbers of elk have recently been in the area.
Avoid waters near beaver ponds or cattle grazing.

Two-Heel Drive: September 2006 Archives


How careful are you with water treatment?

hygiene & sanitation on the trail

I carry a container cut from a 1-gallon milk jug when I hike. The container is about 5 inches high and weighs about an ounce. I use it and a small bandana (along with a few ounces of water) to get a sponge bath in the evenings. It is truly amazing how much trail dirt can be removed with just a few ounces of plain water and a bit of effort. …

I also carry a 2-ounce bottle of Isopropyl alcohol and some cotton balls. When I finish with my “bath” in the evenings, I apply some alcohol to a couple of cotton balls and clean and deodorize the “obvious” areas of my body (underarms, groin area, area between my buttocks and my feet).

Rainmaker’s Suggestions For Hygiene & Sanitation On The Trail

Even better, warm the water for your sponge bath.


Out-of-context photo is the open air “throne toilet”, a breezy design eventually abandoned by Parks Canada. I could not resist throwing it into this post.

: )

mountaineering clothing on Nanga Parbat

Patagonia sponsored Steve House and Vince Anderson climbed Nanga Parbat in six days in “pure alpine style. It was a new direct route on the Rupal Face, a wall with the largest relief of any wall in the world (14,000 feet)”.

For this they won the Oscar of Mountain Climbing — the Piolet d’Or (French for The Golden Ice Axe).

Patagonia posted some great photos, video and a detailed shopping list of Steve’s clothing. (All Patagonia, of course.)

Nice use of the internet! I like this company.


UPDATE: For a terrific article about the controversial Steve House, check The Devil Wears Patagonia – Outside magazine

foot care for hiking


Your foot is a mechanical marvel consisting of a structure of 52 separate bones, tendons, and muscles together forming a small, flexible but strong platform. It is capable of keeping us balanced and moving even under heavy loads and uneven terrains. In this section, we will look at ways to train your feet and how to deal with the common ailments that trouble them. We pay special attention to Foot Blisters which are the number one common foot ailment in Hiking.

>> Prepare & Train your Feet for Hiking

>> Common Walking Disorders

>> Blisters – Prevention & Treatment

>> Hiking Socks

>> Hiking Boot Buying Guide

Feet & Foot Care for Hiking –

hike Canada or the USA? – UPDATE

UPDATE: The concern below, originally posted July 5th, 2006, has been one of the most popular posts on this blog. Seems it strikes a sore point.

Over 2 months after my original complaint via the Parks Canada Listens page I finally heard back from them. With another survey on bears. No response to my original complaint.

Seems Parks Canada did not listen.

This time I will send the updated complaint to these email addresses:

And let you know if I get any official response to the original complaint.

Parks Canada is a government, bureaucratic monopoly with no real pressure to respond to customer (taxpayer) concerns. Don’t hold your breath.

July 5th, 2006

My buddy George just purchased his annual National Parks vehicle passes for both countries:

Canada = US$111.35 (C$123.80)

USA = US$50

OK. So why is Canada over twice as expensive? Ah — here’s the rationale on the Parks Canada website.

I don’t buy it.

I have visited National Parks in both countries for decades and I prefer the American Parks. Regulations are much more reasonable in the States though the amenities are arguably better north of the border.

Once in the Parks, user fees are higher & more numerous in Canada, as well.

At these rates I feel the Canadian National Parks are starting to drive away visitors. Contrary to the objectives of the Park system.

I sent my concerns to Parks Canada at their website.

If you are deciding between Canada and the USA for your next hiking vacation — and cost is an important factor — we recommend the States.

protecting your knees

Hiking downhill used to really bother my knees. However, with improved mechanics, I usually descend painlessly now, but a lot slower. Especially when going downhill, I am mindful of my “heel strike”. The heel strike is the motion of the foot contacting the ground with each step taken. The lighter or softer the heel strike, the less jarring, torque or force (whatever you want to call it) gets transferred up to the knee. When going downhill, I walk like I’m on hot coals or thin ice, putting my foot down very gently. I avoid like the plague what I call “galloping downhill momentum”. There is a natural tendency to speed up on downhills to compensate for the time it took to go uphill and just because it’s easy and feels good.

Rainmaker’s Hiking Mechanics


Bodywork: Your Knees – Care and Maintenance
– Outside magazine

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